Miss Frieda Wolf Hunecke from Rischenau (Lippe-Detmold) was employed at the former English Mission Station in Everek near Caesarea until 28 April of this year, but was then expelled by the municipal authority, because she had concealed forbidden weapons belonging to Armenians. She first moved to the German-American Orphanage in Zindjidere near Talat, and came here from there at the beginning of July after the Imperial Embassy intervened with the Mutesarrif of Caesarea, who permitted her to leave; a few days ago she returned to her home country from here.
Shortly before leaving, she submitted a report of her experiences in Everak to the Imperial Embassy, the original of which is enclosed. As attested by the note at the top of the report, she gave a transcript of it to the local American Embassy. It has been further determined that the Armenian Patriarch had previous knowledge of some parts of this report and, thus, it is to be expected that Miss Hunecke's account will be circulated further. [Note by Rosenberg: "Hopefully not by the press!"]
The bombs found in Everek are mentioned in the report from this side dated 8 May, No. 286. [1915-05-08-DE-001]] It is obvious that this matter is not as harmless as Miss Hunecke presents it; in a former letter to the Imperial Embassy she freely admitted having hidden a Mauser and a shotgun – supposedly a hunting rifle – in her home at the request of the Armenians and later assisted in getting rid of these two weapons.
It was on 11 February 1915 when a bomb exploded in the hand of a good-for-nothing Armenian who, if I am not mistaken, had returned from the United States in the summer of 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the war. As I learned from government officials, etc., at the proper office, he had been on the point of making the bomb in question, for if it had been finished, then the old hut in which he lived would have been blown up, and had he been a master at this trade, it would not have exploded in his hand. The young man died of his wounds about 6 hours later.
Now it was, of course, the government's duty to investigate the matter, and it became clear in time that this had been the 4th bomb he had made. But about 70 further bombs were also found in Everek from the time of Abdul-Hamid, approx. 23 Badman [corrected: Batman.] (6 okas each) of lead, a petroleum-[not deciphered] with powder and perhaps 60–100 Mausers and revolvers. All of these bombs, however, were found only with the Huntchakians and Troshakians. As they also did in my case, the authorities are now attempting to enlarge everything 70 times: in Everek, they claimed to have found 5,000 Mausers and revolvers, the young man supposedly made 95 bombs, etc. I was told this at some time by the government about 3 months ago – 4 weeks after the matter began – but there was no more talk of this afterwards. When I spoke to the Mutesarif in Caesarea during my application for a Teskeri to travel here, he made the above-mentioned statements to me, i.e. that 80 bombs were found in Everek and 200 in Caesarea. He also showed me a photograph of the weapons found in Everek and one of those in Caesarea, and, based on these, I estimated the number of weapons mentioned. [Note by Mordtmann: These photographs have supposedly been reproduced in the [Arabian characters – not deciphered].
Now how was all this found?
After the experiences of 1896, in which the people were first disarmed and then massacred, it was a matter of course that the existence of other bombs, etc., would be denied. But right in the first week a man was caught in the street in the process of burying 24 bombs, which seemingly had been made at the time of Abdul Hamid, but were filled in part more recently and in part were completely empty. Intensive house searches led to the finding of 3 bombs each in 2 other houses. Then the Kaymakam, Adil Bey, a marvellous man who stood decidedly against the maltreatment of the people by the brutal gendarmes, was transferred, and a blood-thirsty Circassian took his place who did not rest until he saw blood wherever possible.
One day I was called to a house and shown a quilt sent from the jail to be washed, one side of which was completely soiled with blood, in long stripes actually, as well as completely wet and dirtied clothes. It was a mystery to me what had been done to the prisoners in jail. But then I got to the bottom of the matter by means of 2 credible persons who experienced this themselves in part.
The prisoner is placed in stocks (as used during Roman times) with 2 gendarmes on each side and 2 at the foot end who now take turns in beating the soles of his feet with sticks as long as their strength lasts. During Roman times, 40 blows was the highest, but here 200, 300, 500, even 800 blows were supposedly administered. The foot begins to swell enormously, then bursts open on top due to the repeated blows, and thus the blood is spurted away. The prisoner is then dragged back to the jail and put to bed by the remaining prisoners. This is the reason for the bloody quilt. As they have meanwhile become unconscious, probably due to the continued blows, cold water is poured over their heads to revive them, causing the wet and dirty clothes. The next day, or more correctly: the night, because these maltreatments always take place both in Caesarea during the night as well as in Everek, the treatment was repeated despite the swelling and despite the wounds. When Miss Gerber's deputy at the orphanage in Zindjirderé (Miss Gerber is presently in the United States) was in jail in Caesarea (while I was in Zindjirderé) because of a Mauser which was Miss Gerber's property and used to protect the orphanage from thieving attacks in the area there, there were also 30 prisoners with completely battered feet, some of which had also been attacked by gangrene, as a result of which some had already been amputated or had to be amputated.
Some of these people had been badly ill-treated in Everek and, after the court martial had moved on to Caesarea, some of them were mistreated again by the cruel Muttesarrif in Caesarea. After I had been in Zindjirderé for 3 weeks, the latter seemed to have been transferred for disciplinary reasons to a lesser post.
It was said that under the new Mutesarif things were carried on in secret: as soon as the Mutesarif appeared those prisoners who were to be ill-treated were sent away. But it seemed to me as if he knew all this very well, but did not want to know. 2 weeks later a young man was then again beaten so badly that he died after 5 minutes. (6 weeks previously, in Tomara, a town situated 6 hours away from Everek, a man had also died after being ill-treated.) The former lay next to an honourable priest I know, the representative of the episcopate in Caesarea, on the manure in the stable where the maltreatments were carried out: according to his own statement, the priest seemingly lay a further 3 days on the manure. After this case, according to eyewitness reports, the stocks were never used again in Caesarea, while this was continued in Everek by the cruel, violent-tempered Kaymakam (Seki Bey).
Apart from beating the soles of the feet, different people have hand-sized burns on their breasts, made with a red-hot iron. I later saw the wounds of a blacksmith who was suspected of having forged the cases of the bombs, but was then set free: his toes had been burned with sulphuric acid (called "Kerab"). Lately, the abdomen is inflated from below and people then use their feet and stomp on it; manure is stuffed into their mouths; supposedly, their fingernails are severed or nails stuck under them. I was not able to confirm the truth of these latter 3 types of maltreatment, but it is not improbable.
About 4 weeks ago we received the news that, as a result of the authority given to the commandant, the Kaymakam in Everek shot 10–18 people whom he wanted to bring to Everek for interrogation in a valley between Everek and the town of Indshern, situated approx. 2 hours away. He stated that they had wanted to escape, but in fact the people were travelling unarmed and by donkey while the Kaymakam was armed and on horseback together with the gendarmes. Shortly thereafter, he expelled all the Christians in Indshern within 3-4 hours, among them very pregnant women who then gave birth along the way and, in their desperation, threw the children into the water. He then had some of the men from among those deported brought back, and it is impossible to prove how many have now been and will be secretly murdered. I would like to add here that the people of Indshern are very ignorant – I have never met such an ignorant village – and I do not believe that a single person resisted. In addition, I have never heard that either Christians or Turks resisted in these 4-5 months, but the Kaymakam is now claiming this in order to cover up his deeds. At the same time, he says himself that “no one can resist me.” When I went to him and lovingly protested with regard to the bloody quilts, he said afterwards, “Even if the law forbids it and the Padishah forbids it, I will continue anyway and do what I want to do.”
While packing my belongings 3 weeks ago in Everek, 2 gendarmes hurried towards the mountain with one of the deported Indshern people who had been expelled and brought back, supposedly to search for a revolver. The gendarmes returned alone, saying that the young man had fled. In fact, the young man’s feet were all swollen up and he was riding on a donkey while the gendarmes were on horseback.
Several days before my departure, a young man from the prison was buried; it is unclear how he died. Through the influence of the Kaymakam, the gendarmes there have become animals who seem to have lost all their feelings.
Until the middle of April I was of the opinion – and said so to the people – that a revolver was sufficient for self-defence. Then, when I learned details of the massacres of 1896 in Caesarea from eyewitnesses, I realised that a revolver is of no use in such times. It wasn’t 2 and 3 people eager to murder who forced their way into a house, but rather, it was said that entire companies of approx. 300 men forced their way in. Even if it was only one-quarter of that number, one revolver would still make no difference. Bombs were also used in one of the two massacres of 1896 or 1909. For one house was spared by the fact that the owner himself stood prepared on the roof with several bombs, showing them to the blood-thirsty crowd, whereupon it dispersed. An American missionary who was then in Caesarea also confirmed that he had already heard of the existence of bombs at that time.
The deportations were to be carried out in Everek after my departure. In Konia, I met a former colleague from Harput, Sister Laura Möhring, who had come from Baghdad and told me of the nameless misery of the deportees in the desert, where they were situated without bread or water. She met a preacher with his village inhabitants in a khan, where they were staying for several days because of the many ill. He told her that an average of five of his people died every day. During the first few days things went fairly well, as long as the food they had brought along lasted, but then things became more hopeless from day to day, particularly in the middle of the desert where the people were perishing. Some of the orphaned girls from the Germans in Marash had been there in this matter and had said to Sister Laura in a desperate manner, “Why does God permit such a thing?” The German Consul in Aleppo estimates the number of deportees at 30,000. 5,000 Zeitunli were brought to the unhealthy Sultani in the area around Konia. In the beginning, the government distributed bread there, but after this was all gone the misery there is supposed to be dreadful. According to statements by Dr. Dad from Konia, the wealthy people from there were also deported to Sultani; for the period in which their money lasted they shared their bread with the poor. Naturally, this only lasted for a while. Then Dr. Dad asked the government for permission to give the hungry people bread, whereupon the Vali answered that the government was handling this and the people were not in need!
In Caesarea, the bribery and draining of the population on the part of the higher and lower public officials seems to be more in vogue than at the time of Abdul Hamid. I have no direct proof on hand with regard to the public officials, but this was confirmed by an honest Turkish official, who was against all the atrocities and expressed it by saying, ”Nä sàn adersin, ben birlirim, happisir tejidschi dirler”! The higher public officials simply do not do these things so publicly, but more in secret by using mediators. I have been told that according to the law, foolishly, as both parties are punishable, i.e. the taker and the giver, it never comes to light. For a long time I did not want to believe this, because nothing was heard of it in Everek, but while I was there once again 3 weeks ago I inquired directly about this. They were only able to tell me about one single case in which 5 Turkish Lira had been taken, despite which the person continued to be ill-treated. In Zindjirderé I got further towards the bottom of the matter through a Turkish worker in the orphanage. While I was there, Charan had to join the army, but he wanted to be free; the lower public officials, "Onbasebs," etc. made suggestions to him, for which he gave them about 1 Turkish Lira and then hid for a while. They had done this play-acting often and poor Charan had probably given them many a Turkish Lira, but this time the call-up to military service was a fact, while until then it had seemingly just been machinations on the part of the lower officials who had wanted to earn money. This time, Charan really had to go after having been in hiding for about 14 days, and now he is supposed to be in Constantinople. An Onbaseb from Talbas, who was now finally dismissed for having acted without any authorisation, is supposed to have pocketed approx. 100 Turkish Lira in this manner since the outbreak of the war.
When I came to Zindjirderé about 2 months ago, there was a particular grudge against Germany. Two Greek soldiers who had been working on the road had been shot. One of them had taken 2 days’ leave as he was now not physically fit and also, if I’m not mistaken, his laundry hadn’t dried, it being winter, but he only came back after 4 days instead of 2. He was then put in jail and shot some weeks later. After the execution and in her great pain, the mother said, “if only they would at least give back the 15 Turkish Lira,” from which it was clear that the lower officials had once again used this case as well to receive money. Just on the day before the execution, although the mother knew nothing of this, they had refused to accept food which the mother had still hauled along with the money to save her son. Naturally, the mother had had to borrow the money. The people then reached the conclusion, which, by the way, was the same everywhere, that “it was not like this at the time of Abdul Hamid; things were better then; they’ve only learned this from the Germans.”
In addition, the Muhammedans also say as an excuse for their atrocities that “the Germans have ordered this done so.” The Germans order this and the Germans order that! According to the opinion of the Armenians in the interior, their rescue depends solely on the German Ambassador. If he so wishes, they will be saved, and if he does not so wish, they will be lost. In their opinion his power in Turkey is equal to that of Emperor William’s in Germany.
I would also like to mention here that the order to hand over the weapons was given much later in the interior than here in Constantinople. It had already been written in the newspapers for quite a while before posters were put up there. Was it simply to be able to torture the people a little bit longer when the houses were entered by force, whip in hand, lashing away mercilessly at everything that stood in their path, or was there another reason? At any rate, people trembled if they even saw the gendarmes and the fear sent many to their sickbeds; I myself was at the end of my strength, because I lived among the people as the only German and, thus, the influence on me was that much stronger.
If, as friends of Turkey, we Germans keep silent with regard to all of this, then we are the barbarians of whom the newspapers write, “Tell me who you associate with and I will tell you who you are.”
I am very concerned about the Muhammedan woman in her dreadful ignorance, and I do not wish to have learned the Turkish language for nothing.
I have also named various persons who would not have given me this information if they had not trusted me completely. I now approach the German government with this same trust.
[Note by Mordtmann, 13 July]
In the meantime, Miss Hunecke has left here, on the 10th inst. at the latest; a letter sent to her on that day with a request that she present herself to my office has been returned marked undeliverable.